Heavy Industry leaders build momentum with bold climate ambition

By We Mean Business coalition | October 23, 2020

In this time of global disruption, ambitious climate action by business leaders is more urgent than ever before. Despite the difficulties, more and more companies are stepping up, even from the industries that are more challenging to decarbonize, such as construction, engineering and chemicals. 

This month, joiners from these sectors are demonstrating that the transition to a zero-carbon economy is building momentum.  

British property development company, Taylor Wimpey, Japanese industry leader for air conditioning technology, Takasago Thermal Engineering and Solvay, global leader in materials, solutions and chemicals, all announced commitments to setting a science-based target (SBT) through the Science Based Target initiative. 

Takasago Thermal Engineering is a Japanese air conditioning equipment construction company. Headquartered in Tokyo the company employs around 5,000 people and operates in 11 countries. Takasago strives to create value whilst contributing to sustainable development, aiming for a contribution to shift “the world towards a decarbonized society through environmental engineering”.

This year, Taylor Wimpey is rolling out a new environmental strategy, part of which includes the recent setting of its SBT. To date, the company has reduced its direct carbon emissions intensity by 43% since 2013 and has a well-established approach to managing and reducing biodiversity impacts on their sites, but they wanted to go further and make longer-term commitments. 

CEO Pete Redfern says: “By integrating sustainability into the way we work, we firmly believe that we create a stronger business for the long term and generate more value for our customers, communities, people, shareholders and suppliers.”

Climate change will affect where and how our homes are built with increased risks from flooding and overheating. Over half the UK’s local authorities have now declared a climate emergency so additional requirements now exist through the planning process. Increasingly, there is also  greater demand from customers for low carbon living. 

Solvay has raised its sustainability ambition one step further and committed to review its 2030 objectives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Science Based Targets initiative

“Earlier this year, we adopted a 2030 goal to reduce our emissions twice as fast than under our previous goal, effectively closing up with a Paris Agreement trajectory,” says Solvay CEO Ilham Kadri. “Now we will take this commitment a step further by joining with customers, suppliers and all other companies that are setting emissions reduction targets in line with what climate science says is necessary. We have to reinvent progress and act decisively in this decade to minimize the climate risk.”

Solvay will further reduce emissions from its own factories (Scope 1) as well as emissions related to the energy it purchases (Scope 2). The new targets will also include emissions in the value chains connected to Solvay’s activities. These emissions (Scope 3) are principally embedded in goods and services purchased and emissions taking place during the processing, use and end of life of products sold.

Solvay’s new sustainability ambition, Solvay One Planet, published earlier this year, pushes to focus on the company’s impacts in line with society’s expectations. Solvay One Planet is inspired by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It includes ten measurable commitments in three key focus areas: climate, resources and better life. The addition of these new science-based targets was also presented to investors at a dedicated ESG webinar on October 2, 2020.

These commitments to accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon future of heavy industry send a powerful signal. The heavy industry sector is adapting and evolving – primarily to address the urgent need to act on air pollution and climate change whilst also meeting the growing demand for construction globally. 

At the We Mean Business coalition we commend these commitments and urge more companies to take action to help accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon transport future. For companies involved in construction, materials and consumer goods, this means setting a bold science-based target aligned with limiting global warming to a maximum of 1.5ºC and reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest. It also means accelerating the transition to 100% renewable energy and better energy use through the Climate Group’s RE100 and EP100 initiatives. 

A new report commissioned by the We Mean Business coalition and conducted by UCL ISR this month highlights the urgency for businesses and governments to harness and drive the exponential growth of renewable energy to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

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